Shagbark Hickory

Scientific name: Carya ovata
Abundance: uncommon
What: nuts
How: raw, roasted
Where: Woods, Landscaping
When: fall
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A,E,K,B6; fats, minerals
Other uses: Wood is great for tool handles

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are compound, alternating along the stem.

Leaf Shape: Compound leaves typically consist of 5 to 17 leaflets. Each leaflet can measure 3 to 8 inches in length. Leaflets are opposite, except for the single, tip leaflet.

Leaf Color: Foliage is generally green, with variations among hickory species.

Flower Structure: Inconspicuous, small greenish-yellow flowers are arranged in catkins (1"-1.5" long spikes).

Flower Size: Individual flowers are tiny, about 1/8 inch in size.

Fruit (Nut): The fruit is a hard-shelled nut enclosed in a husk. Nut size varies among hickory species but can range from 1 to 2 inches.

Bark: Bark appearance varies among hickory species, ranging from smooth to rough, with furrows and ridges. Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) bark appears as peeling, vertical strips

Height: Hickory trees can vary widely in height, from 30 to 100 feet, depending on the species.

Hairs: All parts are hairless

Wood Color: The heartwood color varies from pale to reddish-brown, depending on the hickory species.

Branching Pattern: Hickory trees typically have a straight trunk with a spreading crown.

Hickory nuts.

Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) tree.

Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) tree bark.

Top of Shagbark Hickory leaf.

Bottom of Shagbark Hickory leaf.

Flowers of Shagbark Hickory (taken March in Houston, TX).

Water hickory (Carya aquatica) nuts are too bitter to eat.

Water hickory bark (inedible hickory).

Hickory leaves. Note the compound leaf has nine or less (but always and odd number) leaflets while a pecan leaf will have 11-17 leaflets.

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Related to pecans and walnuts, Shagbark Hickory trees aren't nearly as common but when found the nuts are quite tasty. Only the Shagbark species of hickories are edible whereas the Water Hickory (Carya aquatica), though more common, are too bitter to eat.

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